Greenprints for Condos

The condominium craze is a phenomenon often associated with
controversial issues like gentrification and the expansion of
privilege, but with such growth comes the potential for positive
impact, and some redeeming features are appearing in the
blueprints. As developers realize the profitability of green
building, they are beginning to market that angle. Craig Saunders
This Magazine reports that boasting
LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design — a widely recognized standard for environmental
building) is giving developers a major edge on the competition
in an industry where there’s little to set the products (i.e.,
the buildings) apart. It’s a marketing scheme that consumers can
feel good about buying into, since ‘[t]he environment is a
consideration at their planning stage, and at every step along
the way,’ writes Saunders.

A 10-unit condo in the Bankers Hill neighborhood of San Diego is
a case in point. Roger M. Showley reports for the
San Diego Union-Tribune that the
complex will attain up to 70 percent of its energy from solar
panels. In addition, the project will use chemical-free building
materials, wood discarded by lumber companies, and a landscape
of fruit trees and herbs. Developer Craig Brod told Showley that
environmentally sound condos are worth the 3 percent to 5
percent extra in building costs, adding that, ‘[t]he majority of
builders in America are creating a travesty. They’re charging
people a lot of money for a product that is basically inferior
to what it could be.’

Though a green condo may be more expensive than its conventional
counterpart, buyers can walk away with a satisfaction that’s more
tangible than the warm and fuzzy feeling of shrinking their
eco-footprint. This‘ Saunders points out that since much
of the work goes toward making buildings more energy and water
efficient, the savings from reduced bills will add an extra layer
or two to owners’ wallets in the future.

Some developers are going a step further, combining green living
with green transportation. Saunders writes that designers often
incorporate ways to minimize gas usage, like constructing condos a
walkable distance from amenities and cultural centers or including
a membership to a co-op car in the condo package. In Dallas the
purchase of a ‘Buzz’ condo comes complete with an electric moped.
Residents can recharge in the garage using wind-powered
electricity, writes Christine Perez of the
Dallas Business Journal. The planners
forewent typical condo perks like swimming pools for more
eco-minded and utilitarian benefits. After all, says
co-developer Zad Roumaya, ‘[y]ou can’t drive a swimming pool to
the office.’

Go there >>
Green Inside the Box

Go there too >>
Green Condos are Ready to Go Up on Bankers

And there >>
‘Green’ Condos Finding a Market

Related Links:

Related Links from the Utne

Comments? Story tips?
Write a letter to the editor

Like this? Want more?Subscribe to
Utne magazine

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.